A few weeks ago I started wondering and asking myself actually “how fit am I” and how far I could push my body to get to the max? Since the Kildare Marathon in May I have been struggling with a couple of injuries and getting back into the swing of training and the consistencies of my running has been really hit and miss. During the marathon training my iron levels had dropped really low so energy was also very low. I really was starting to feel stuck in a rut and in that vicious cycle of feeling tired so putting off the exercise, and then feeling even more tired so putting it off again. I was starting to feel somewhat unfit – even though of course I knew that it would take a fair amount of time to actually completely lose the fitness I had built up over the last couple of years. I suppose I wondered how fit I actually was and how I would get that feeling of being fit back. I needed something to aim for, and since I had decided to skip Dublin Marathon 2012 and concentrate on getting my iron levels sorted and work on my speed. I did a bit of research and decided to go and get a VO2 Max test done to test my level of fitness.
A VO2 Max test is “the single most effective way of measuring your cardiovascularfitness! It provides you with a detailed breakdown of your unique fitness profile and also gives you the information you need to reach the next level in your training.” This had me sold – so I booked in.
Last Wednesday was D-day and the test would involve pushing my body to the max on a treadmill whilst attached to a machine and mask where my oxygen levels would be measured and my heart rate monitored whilst all the time the treadmill would be gradually sped up and also the incline increased gradually too. I started off just standing on the treadmill and getting used to having the oxygen mask strapped onto my face, my heart was pounding with nerves and was up to 95 without me even doing anything, my resting heart rate I thought was around 50 – but watching it then I was starting to doubt my fitness altogether!! I joked to Sean, the guy doing the test, that I’d actually ‘changed my mind’ and wanted to go home, I couldn’t believe I was so nervous about a little test!
Once I had chilled out a little bit it was time to start the test. First of all I just started walking and then every 15 – 30 seconds or so either the incline or the speed was increased. I got to 12 minutes and Sean advised me I was now working anaerobically (without oxygen), breathing was difficult and I wasn’t sure how long I could keep going, I set my sites on getting to 15 minutes, every second that ticked by seemed like an eternity as Sean kept reassuring me I was doing well and I kept staring at the clock ticking down, he increased the incline again at about 14 ½ minutes and then told me he would be increasing the speed again just before I hit the 15 minutes mark…as he said he was going to increase the speed I thought HELL NO and hit the stop button dead on 15 mins. I then kept the mask on for another few minutes to measure my recovery. As soon as I’d recovered of course I felt like I could’ve done more but I think in reality I probably would’ve fallen off the treadmill!
After the test we then sat down to go through the results. For my sex and age range a score of 22.8 would be low, 27 would be “fair” 31 would be “good”, 35 would be “excellent” and anything over 40 would be considered “superior”. The results came in that my VO2 Max score was 60.2! Wow – I honestly could not believe it and had to ask Sean again what my actual score was because I couldn’t believe it was that high, especially since I had been feeling so unfit! It gave me great motivation and the bit of the kick I needed and walking away with my full results on paper and some training tips on how to improve my score even more – I went away buzzing! :0)
I suppose my only regret was that I never found out about this test before I lost all the weight and started getting fit. I will never know the true reality about how bad it had got – and it would have been a real eye opener and good comparison to have! Sean advised in our post test meeting that VO2 max testing isn’t just for people interested in sport, in fact it’s great for anyone just wanting a measure of their precise fitness.
I couldn’t recommend it highly enough and definitely would say for anyone to go and get one done or even speak with Sean to see what he can do for you! To see your “score” in black and white is a great motivation and also to see the results after a few months hard work must be an amazing feeling. I can’t wait to get my retest done – although the only down side is now I HAVE to stick to my training plan otherwise the test will show me up! :0)
Sean also does metabolic testing which can also be a good addition to anyone trying to lose weight! If anyone is interested in finding out about the VO2 max or the other tests he can perform, you can find him at www.myhealthmatters.ie or the Health Matters Facebook page.
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